KUALA LUMPUR: Strong gains in MISC and the banking sector helped to keep the positive momentum going on the FBM KLCI, which extended its rebound for a third straight day.
Anxieties over the spreading coronavirus and its impact on the global economy were alleviated as the US recorded robust payrolls data amid moves by China's policymakers to prop up its financial markets.
Overnight, data showed the US jobs markets added the most private payrolls in nearly four years, giving a boost to the US equity market that has erased losses incurred from coronavirus fears.
At 12.30pm, the FBM KLCI was up 10.66 points to 1,547.45. Trading volume was 1.66 billion shares valued at RM998.8mil. There were 521 advancing counters versus 316 losers and 258 unchanged.
Amid what has been a tentative trading environment, MISC's new contract wins worth US$525.6mil proved a boon for its share price, which jumped 29 sen to RM8.25.
Investors also proved bullish over financial counters with buying activity seen in Public Bank up 30 sen to RM18.30, Maybank rising nine sen to RM8.45, CIMB gaining two sen to RM5 and Hong Leong Bank adding 14 sen to RM16.12.
Among the plantation plays, Sime Darby Plantation led the pack with a seven sen advance to RM5.17. IOI was up four sen to RM4.49 and KL Kepong added two sen to RM23.46.
Meanwhile, low-budget carrier AirAsia continued to recover from recent losses, rising three sen to RM1.19 in active trade.
Oil markets advanced for a second day as investors turned optimistic that there are breakthroughs in efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak, leading to a rebound in demand for the commodity.
WTI crude was up US$1.11 a barrel and Brent crude rose 91 cents to US$56.19 a barrel.
On the forex market, the ringgit strengthened 0.1% agains the US dollar to 4.1150. It also rose 0.25% against the pound sterling to 5.3425 and 0.3% against the Singapore dollar to 2.9724.
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